Apr 9th, 2020
A humble branch...and a valuable ally.
Ken and Colin — still practicing social distancing and recording via the podcast’s Discord server (guests always welcome!) — are joined by Jerimy to discuss the topic of staves — also known as staffs, quarterstaffs, and probably by a few other terms as well. Once much more commonplace, the crafting and use of staves by Scouts has fallen by the wayside in recent decades; if Wikipedia can be believed, they’ve not been considered part of the kit that attend’s a Scout’s uniform since the mid-1960s, for example.
So obviously, if your council or national organization has forebade the usage of staves in Scouting activities, please disregard the exhortations to take on crafting a staff as an activity during this extended period of suspended group meetings and isolation at home.
That being said, a well-fashioned staff can be a useful thing indeed, and if multiple Scouts in a troop have staves, then the uses multiply considerably. A single staff can be used to navigate rough terrain, test the depth of bodies of water, or even form the basis of a simple shelter; multiple staves can be combined to fashion stretchers, raise flags, and help a troop navigate and find/not lose each other in the dark.
Making a Scout staff is not a quick activity, either; it’s a lengthy process that involves selecting an appropriate spar of wood, drying it, removing some or all of the bark, carving and etching to personalize it, and then varnishing/lacquering/preserving it against the elements. These are the basics; there are a few different instruction sets which can be found online (see: here, here, and/or here).
But, as we search for ways to keep our youth engaged in Scouting in this time of isolation, encouraging the creation of staves — if, again, it is permitted in your council and national organization — might be a worthwhile thing. It will require your Scouts to first find a suitable spar for making a staff, will get them doing some knife work (Cubs should be supervised in doing this, of course), and will result in the creation of a physical artifact that will, hopefully, be a focal point for many years of Scouting memories to follow.
As always, a big thank you to the folks at Scouting Radio for rebroadcasting Scouting Stuff episodes to their worldwide Scouting audience. If you're listening to us on Scouting Radio right now, let us know; reach out and get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.
Download episode: MP3
Slow Burn, by Kevin MacLeod